We urge Congress not to hold any inquiry into the two successive deadly military plane crashes and allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct its own investigation.
A parallel probe by the Senate or the House could only muddle the facts as some legislators might use the inquiry not in aid of legislation but in aid of their reelection in next year’s polls.
Offhand, we can say that there are two possible reasons why a plane crashes: 1) aircraft malfunction; and 2) pilot error.
In the crash of Lockheed C-130 Hercules plane in Patikul, Sulu last July 4 that killed 42 soldiers and three civilians, there are some pertinent questions that should be answered. Was the plane air-worthy? Was the pilot trained to fly a huge aircraft? If he has and there was no aircraft malfunction, why did he miss the runway when the landing was executed at noontime?
We know that accidents happen but if the aircraft was in top shape and the pilot knew what he was doing, then the crash could not have happened and lives could have been saved.
Military authorities are saying that the plane that crashed was one of the two newly acquired transport planes that arrived in the country on Jan. 29. This was procured by the Philippine Air Force for P2.5 billion and funded by U.S. government assistance.
At least, Maj. Gen. Edgardo Arevalo, AFP spokesman, has admitted that the aircraft was not brand-new but was in tip-top condition. This has to be proven by the investigation.
According to a retired military officer, this was the third reconditioned C-130 that crashed: the first one was in the 1990s, the second one in 2008 in Davao City.
Because of these crashes, the AFP should prioritize the PAF in its Modernization Program and buy brand-new C-130s instead of modernizing our naval assets. Of course, this will cost more but with the recent crash, it is too risky to use the reconditioned C-130 especially since it is the workhorse in times of disasters and calamities.
In contrast to the C-130, the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter that crashed last June 23 and that killed six PAF personnel was brand-new and part of the 16 choppers acquired from Poland at a cost of $241.5 million. There is still no official report as to the cause of the crash.